Thursday, March 2, 2023

the last book I ever read (Buster Keaton: A Filmmaker's Life, excerpt two)

from Buster Keaton: A Filmmaker's Life by James Curtis:

Following the completion of Love, Arbuckle, bound for New York, converged with Joe Schenck and Adolph Zukor in Kansas City to sign contracts that had been in the works for eight weeks. The new agreement was valued at $3 million over thirty-six months, a figure Zukor confirmed in a wire to Famous Players-Lasky, which would continue to distribute the Fatty Arbuckle comedies under the Paramount name. Two months later, with some of that money burning a hole in his pocket, Arbuckle closed a deal to buy the Vernon Tigers of the Pacific Coast League, something he admitted he did just to please Lou Anger, a baseball bug who would act as the team’s general manager. When Buster reappeared in May, having turned down offers from both William Fox and Warner Bros., he was put to work clowning with Roscoe and Al St. John at the season opener, suiting up in team colors and wielding a bat and ball made of plaster. Arbuckle’s replacement for Alice Lake, an actress named Molly Malone, served as the team’s mascot, and those in the stands included stage and screen star Bessie Barriscale, actors Jack Pickford and Lew Cody, and Fox cowboy hero Tom Mix.

Keaton later said he was offered $1,000 a week to jump ship, but his loyalty to Schenck and Arbuckle trumped money, and he stuck with the $150 a week he was getting when he left for Camp Kearny. He knew that big changes were afoot, because Arbuckle was keen to move into features and play more sophisticated roles. Al St. John was also getting restless, and it would be only a matter of time before he went out on his own.

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